It’s easy to forget about the little things in life, but those little things often lead to big things. For example, did you know that how you care for your clothing can determine how long that article of clothing lasts? As surprising as it may seem, your clothing is not just a one-time purchase: You will most likely get more use if you take care of it. So much so that certain pieces can last you years rather than months. Take silk shirts, for example – if cared for properly, they can last you for several years. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about caring for your silk shirt. Whether you have one or many in your closet, this helpful guide will come in handy!
Use the gentle cycle on your washing machine. Don't use a dryer at all, or only use it on the lowest setting unless it is a "no heat" setting (which most are). If you do need to use a dryer, toss in an old towel so that they can soften up while they're drying and not get tangled up with each other in there. Don't dry-clean them either. You want to keep the natural oils in them as much as possible!
Spot clean first
- If you spot a stain on your silk shirt, the first thing to do is spot clean it. This means that you'll use a mild detergent and a clean cloth to blot the stain rather than rub it, as rubbing can cause the fibers in your fabric to break down over time.
- Rinse your cloth after each use, then blot the stain gently until it's gone. Repeat this process if necessary until all traces of the stain are removed from both sides of your shirt.
- Allow the garment to air dry before folding or hanging up again!
Use a suitable detergent.
When it comes to caring for your silk shirt, the type of detergent you use is just as important as how often you wash it. Because silk is a natural fiber, harsh chemicals in your regular detergent can actually damage the fabric over time. The best way to clean your silk shirts is with a special detergent explicitly formulated for silk. It's also essential to use only a tiny amount of this special detergent. Too much, and it'll leave an oily residue on your shirt that can cause staining.
Skip the bleach
While you might think that bleach is the answer to all your laundry woes, it can cause more harm than good. Bleach will weaken the fibers of your silk shirt and yellow them—not exactly what you're going for when you wear a white work shirt with a suit. If you've got a stain on your silk shirt that just won't budge, try using baking soda or vinegar; those are natural bleaching agents that will only lift discoloration without damaging the fabric itself.
Avoid washing in hot water.
While silk's natural fibers are resistant to water damage, they can still be damaged by hot water. As a rule of thumb, avoid washing your silk shirts in hot water and try to use cold or warm water instead. This will help keep the fabric from stretching and preserve its color.
Don't wring it out
You should never wring out silk in the sink, as this will cause it to wrinkle. Instead, simply press the water out with your hands. Some people like to hang their silk blouses on hangers while they dry. Hanging up your blouse can be hard on its fabric and structure and result in a bunch of wrinkles. Instead, let it air dry flat on a towel or garment rack with other items that need drying. Or you can even lay it flat on top of the dryer so that steam from drying clothes helps release any excess moisture before folding it up later.
Let it drip dry
Use either a drying rack or a clothesline to let your shirt drip dry. If using the latter, gently comb out the wrinkles with a wide-tooth comb, if necessary. For best results when hanging it outside to dry, hang the shirt on a cool day; this will help prevent shrinkage and wrinkling due to humidity. If you decide to do this in wintertime (or in any other season), remember that this may cause your silk garment to become brittle or crack. It's also crucial that you always iron inside out so as not to damage the delicate fabric. To avoid over-ironing and damaging your shirt even more than it already is from its previous life as an insect cocoon or spider web silk nest, set your iron at low heat and press for no more than 15 seconds at a time; then let it sit untouched for 5 minutes before pressing again briefly but thoroughly enough so as not leave any creases behind even after drying overnight off-gauge.
Iron with a pressing cloth
- To avoid scorching or staining your silk shirt, it's essential to use a pressing cloth. A pressing cloth is simply a piece of fabric you place between the iron and your garment. The fabric acts as an insulator, preventing heat from being transferred directly from the iron to your garment.
To use a pressing cloth:
- Lay out your blouse or shirt on a clean towel or pillowcase.
- Place another clean towel over the top of the first one and smooth it out, so there are no wrinkles in either towel. This keeps the two layers separate during ironing so that heat doesn't transfer through both layers and scorch your material.
- Set up your ironing board with its legs extended so that you can easily reach all areas inside it - this will make things easier on yourself! If you don't have an ironing board but want one anyway, they're convenient for getting work done faster.
Silk is a delicate fabric and requires special care. Wash silk in cold water, and don't wring out the shirt. Only gently squeeze out excess water, then lay flat on a towel to dry. Don't hang it up to drip dry because this can cause creases in the fabric. Iron with a pressing cloth (a clean cotton t-shirt works well), but avoid using iron directly on the silk because it will scorch your shirt! Instead, use an ironing board cover made from cotton or linen that won't damage your silk. Avoid bleaching; instead, spot clean any stains with mild detergent first before washing in cold water by hand or machine if necessary. Silk also does not need to be washed as often as other fabrics; every three or four wearings should suffice for most shirts unless they are visibly dirty.